The Bradford Oil Refinery holds the distinction of being the oldest continuously operating petroleum refinery in the United States. Over the past 125 years, the refinery has survived changes in ownership, fires, and economic highs and lows, and it continues to be an important supplier of lubricants and refinery specialties. The company was established in 1881 in the small village of Kendall Creek
(now the city of Bradford) by three independent oilmen: Robert Childs, Eli Loomis, and William Willis. They quickly recognized the financial opportunity of building a refinery in the heart of the oil region. The original crude oil capacity was 3,500 barrels per year. Today the refinery purchases in excess of three million barrels of crude oil annually, two-thirds of which comes from within 100 miles of the refinery.